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Chapter 7. User Experience: Museums on t... > A Whirlwind Tour of Museum Web Sites

A Whirlwind Tour of Museum Web Sites

The Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is an important national asset. A vast organization, it comprises 16 separate museums and 8 research centers with combined collections totaling over 240 million artifacts—150 million in the museums themselves, the rest in associated libraries and archives. Fewer than 2 percent of the collection is on display at any one time. The federal appropriation for the Smithsonian in fiscal year 2001 was $454.9 million [Bley 2001].

The developers of the Smithsonian’s Web site faced a huge challenge. They had to create a way to access a dauntingly huge and diverse collection representing the digitized holdings of multiple component museums with different missions and different types of collections. At the same time, they had to create an aesthetically and intellectually rich experience for visitors of many different backgrounds and capabilities, including scholars and casual tourists from all over the world and people of all ages and educational backgrounds.


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